Posts Tagged ‘flower’

Rhododendron Growing Tips

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

A cause of infinite regret is that no member of this beautiful genus will tolerate the slightest trace of lime, no matter how disguised with peat. There are no better evergreen shrubs than the Tree Roses whose members range in height from the 30-ft. splendour of Rhododendron sinogrande to the prostrate posturing of R. repens. The evergreen species can be used as a background contrast to later flowering shrubs.

Deciduous azaleas are available by the hundred. Ignes Nova, carmine red blotched yellow, is good in autumn when the leaves turn purple. Unique is late flowering and rather tall with apricot blooms. Comte de Gomer is compact and dainty with pink blossoms. Hugo Hardyzer is 4 ft. high and a very impressive scarlet. R. luteum has all the qualities of a good shrub with sweetly scented magnificent autumn colour.

The Alpine Rose, R. .ferrugineum, makes a rounded bush with the young foliage copper tinted. In the best forms the flowers are a startling brick red. The grey-leaved R. hippophaeoides grows pleasantly out in the open in company with heathers. It grows to around 3 ft. high and its lilac flowers brighten the April days.


Friday, March 6th, 2009

Weigelas grow best in a well-prepared soil with sufficient organic matter to provide a moist, yet well-drained root run. They are decorative when in flower, and the rather untidy character of the bush can be improved by pruning the old wood during the late winter.

The species of real quality, Weigela florida, like so many other worthy plants, comes from China. The flowers are rose pink outside and like pale apple blossom within and they resemble a well-proportioned digitalis. I do not approve of the variety variegata, as I feel it reduces the dignity of the species, but I am very much in the minority in this respect. At 4 ft. it is 18 in. shorter than the type with pale pink flowers and leaves margined cream.


Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Potentillas are absolutely indispensable shrubs. Amongst their virtues is the ability to grow practically anywhere in any soil except dense shade or a weeping bog. I cherish the dozen or so specimens and varieties which grow here, and enjoy the flowers which open in succession from May until September. They look a little untidy after leaf fall, but this can be forgiven in a shrub so thoroughly worthwhile.

Katherine Dykes, tall at 5 ft., opens primrose-yellow flowers throughout the summer. Klondyke, a dwarf at 18 in., has sparkling golden-yellow flowers. My own favourite, Longacre, makes a neat bush 18 in. high, and has cascades of good quality yellow blossoms. Primrose Beauty has more shape than most, with grey leaves and cream flowers. Tangerine has flowers of a delicate copper orange when grown on a lime soil in light shade and is well worth a corner.

I restrict pruning to a general thinning of overcrowded branches in March. Cuttings semi-hardwood in July are child’s play to root, and I also gather up a rich harvest of self-sown seedlings.


Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Double lilacs are not my taste as a rule, but Charles Joly, a dark red, is worthy of space. Edith Cavell, cream to pure white, has not the character of the other fine white, Madame Lemoine, but shows sufficient resilience to grow on very wind-swept situations.

Paul Thirion, the last to flower with trusses of rose blossom fading to lilac, is like so many inhabitants of this globe, admirable when young but with a distinct tendency towards decrepitude with advancing years.

The best plants are those grown from layers in spring, but unfortunately most varieties, unless hard pruned, do not produce the right quality of wood low enough to be pegged down at soil level. Some will root from cuttings of semi-ripened shoots in July, but the task requires patience.

In S. x prestoniae can be found a race of hybrids quite unlike any of the others. They are vigorous and tolerant of a vast degree of exposure and soil types. The flowers are carried in large loose panicles. Audrey, deep lilac to pale pink, has made a bush 10 ft. high in 16 years in my garden and improves each year. Royalty has violet-blue flowers and is much the same height.


Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

This is a magnificent family which includes the lovely winter-flowering Jasminum nudiflorum. I always grow this as a wall plant and the long rambling shoots are then displayed to the proper effect.

A pergola, stump, even an old stone gate post are all methods I have adopted as support and pressed into service when no wall space could be provided. As a free-growing shrub the shoots should be hard pruned to encourage a proliferation of side branches but this to a certain extent spoils the character.

Propagation is effected by chopping away rooted pieces from the parent or if preferred by cuttings.

The white-flowering fragrant climber, is rather more demanding, though it becomes a strong vigorous climber capable of covering a ‘12-ft. high wall with ease. Propagation of both species is easily effected by means of semi-hardwood cuttings in July - August.

Like the rhododendron, kalmia is a shrub which resents a soil with the slightest trace of lime. Given a medium to their liking, they make shapely evergreen bushes, 4 to 6 ft. high in the case of Kalmia latifolia, the Calico Bush. The bright pink flowers which are exquisitely formed with deep pink stamens merit close appreciation. Pruning consists of removing the dead flower heads.


Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Liriodendron tulipifera is better known as the Tulip Tree and it is readily identified by the characteristically shaped three-lobed leaves which look as if they had been clipped short with a pair of scissors. It is certainly not a tree for the small garden for it grows quite quickly to a considerable height.

Magnolia denudata, the Yulan or Lily Tree, does not take long to settle in and present the gardener with a few of the pure white, cup-shaped flowers which are so elusively fragrant that it would be almost better if they had no scent at all. Magnolias should never suffer root damage, so though pot-grown specimens may cost a little more they are worth it for the assurance of success they bring.

The variety known as fastigiatum or pyramidale offers hope to the small garden for in this case all the growth is severely upright and not spreading.

Arranging Houseplants in a Container

Friday, February 20th, 2009

When plants are sick they require to he gradually encouraged back to good health by keeping them in a warm place, watering very sparingly and temporarily discontinuing feeding. It is also important that they should not be exposed to direct sunlight. There seems to be a desire on the part of the owner to pot the ailing plant into a larger container filled with the most super of super composts. This frequently proves to be the final blow - one should pot on healthy, vigorous plants and not lame ducks. It is inevitable when repotting that the root system will suffer some damage, and this can often be the death of the sickly plant that has had its last few healthy roots destroyed in the process.

Besides selecting good quality plants and creating humidity, it is also necessary to provide light, airy and reasonably warm conditions. A temperature in the region of 16 to 18C. (60 to 65F.) is adequate for all but the more tender tropical types of plant. Excessive heat can often present more problems than temperatures that are slightly below ideal requirements, especially if the atmosphere is very dry. Excess in most things is detrimental, and it would certainly seem to apply to plants where moderation does, on the whole, give much better results.

Houseplant Decor Equipment

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

We seem to have come a long way with indoor plants in the last quarter of a century as plants in an ever-increasing variety are produced in their millions annually for an eager and interested public.

It would not, however, he wise to move plants about to too many different locations as they do very much better once they have become adjusted to a particular environment, and can remain there.

At one time there was only the cottage window providing a home for a cluster of comparatively uninteresting plants - these seldom got away from the fern, tradcscantia and aspidistra. Nowadays, however, the scope has increased tremendously; with homes that are light, airy and well heated there seems to be no limit to the range of plants, both easy and delicate, that can be managed quite satisfactorily indoors.

This is anotherreason why one should purchase plants from a retailer who has heated premises, and insist on plants being properly wrapped and protected before taking them out of the shop.

Fertilisers, leal-eleaning agents, self-watering gadgets there is an infinite variety, but one should not be brainwashed into believing that an expensive range of equipment is necessary in order to he a successful indoor plant, though these things may help.


Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

The species H. paniculata grandiflora makes a very impressive sight in late summer, especially when the shoots are thinned to allow full development. The branches arch over with the weight of the panicles which open first to white then fade to pale pink. H. villosa is one of the loveliest of the late summer-flowering species with large lilac-blue inflorescences.

Both are lovely grown against a dark background of evergreens. The blue and white flowers of H. involucrata on 18-in. stems provide just the right softening influence to the lustre of the orange lily Enchantment, so I mix them up like a floral salad in a bed dominated by a sombre yew.

Some plants radiate a positive bonhomie, and in this respect St John’s Wort has few equals. In the old herbals it is credited with the ability to cure melancholy, so the prudent gardener should always have a bush on hand, at least on budget days!


Monday, February 16th, 2009

Skimmias resemble some rhododendrons in the neatness of evergreen growth. They will succeed in most soils as long as these are sufficiently well berries for the gardener to sacrifice sufficient space to plant both male and female bushes. Now one bush of S. x foremanii, planted in partial shade, will supply berries in quantity on a 4-ft. bush in most seasons.

The graceful weeping branches are lovely when sufficient space can be given for full unrestricted development. Vitellina is very like the above but the young shoots are yellow and the annual growth less vigorous.

Of this genus none can rival our native Rowan or Mountain Ash. Even when grown in some suburban gardens the deeply divided leaves and orange-scarlet berries hint of the wide reaches of moor and lonely upland loch. First, in alphabetical order must come the whitebeam, Sorhus aria, with leaves which are green on the upper surface and silver grey underneath. The fruits in autumn are highly coloured and irresistible so far as the birds are concerned.